Myles Munroe, in his book: Understanding the Purpose and Power of a Woman, stated, “When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable”.

Everyone can relate to abuse at one level or another, whether through personal relationships, experiences or that of others. We usually associate the word with treating or being treated in a harmful or offensive way. While this is one form of abuse, there is however another aspect to the meaning of this word. It can also mean, to use (something) to bad effect or for a bad purpose; or to misuse.

For the purpose of my discourse, I want to focus on abuse as the improper use of something. As we journey through a new year, I’d like to encourage you to consider your relationships: be it with your spouse, children, friends, colleagues, employer etc. and to evaluate if there is a case to answer for abuse or not.

Don’t we sometimes wish for the wrong things simply due to wrong motives? At times, we wish we could get in or out of certain things or certain relationships especially at the beginning of the year when everyone is writing a new year plan or resolution if you like. However if we do not perceive what we need, have or the relationships we are in correctly, abuse may be inevitable.

You are where you are, in the relationship you are in, and have what you have for a reason. It is possible to keep making the same mistakes over and over again if you do not clearly define what you have and why you want to hold on to it or… not. These ‘what and why’ questions will help you to understand some things in your life including your relationships. For example, if you want to get married just because it’s deemed to be a normal thing for people of your age group or just because every wedding you’ve been to appears magical and beautiful, you may need to step back a little and ask yourself if you are truly ready for such a serious commitment, and if you mature enough. This has nothing to do with age. What can you bring to the table and what do you believe the other person should bring or will be bringing into the relationship? If you consider your new spouse to be just that extra body to provide warmth on your bed or someone with whom you can now have legitimate sex with, then you may be setting yourself or others up for abuse.

For those that are married, do you truly understand and know the worth and value that your spouse brings to your relationship/marriage? If you don’t truly understand the role your spouse is assigned to play in your life, you will not be able to appreciate and accept it. Dr O once said “every man needs his wife’s help. The sooner he realises this, the better. And any man who doesn’t know that God meant his wife to be a helpmate to him is not only dangerous to himself but to others. He will frustrate the person that should make his life easy”. This could also apply to a woman who can’t discern what her husband is meant to be to her. If you are married, let me ask you a question, would you say that you fully recognise who and what you are supposed to be to your spouse? If not, there is the tendency that you are shortchanging him/her of the many ways that you could be a blessing to them and to your kids if you have any.

The key here is perception. If you cannot perceive something or someone correctly, abuse will be inevitable because you will misinterpret them and their purpose in your life or your purpose in theirs. In most cases, this form of abuse can be prevented. If you are in a relationship where you are not appreciated and where you cannot say for a fact that the other person values who you are, what you bring and how important you are to them, you may need to sit down again and critically evaluate your position.

“Whatever is not valued will eventually be mishandled”.

And so be bold and courageous to ask each other what you perceive as your roles in each other’s lives. I have seen people who live their lives as though they are better off without their spouses or children. They see them as hindrances rather than blessings. This does not only apply to marriage relationships, but what about your other relationships: with children, siblings, parents, friendships and alliances? Do you perceive them correctly?

Jesus once asked his disciples who they thought he was in Mark 8 vs. 29. Only Simon Peter correctly discerned who he was to them and to the rest of the world. Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Jesus mentioned that flesh and blood did not reveal this to him but God Himself. In the same way, who do you say your spouse, children, friends, or parents are? Peter could have perceived Jesus as a Prophet and he would have been partially right or a teacher even. However his answer demonstrated that he truly understood the mind of God concerning Jesus. Some of the great people in our world today, whose parents have sacrificed for to be who they are, would probably not have made it to the hall of fame if their parents or caregivers did not perceive who they are correctly.

May I therefore encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to show you or reveal who your friends, spouse and children are. The degree to which you are able to perceive your relationship with the important people in your life, will be the degree to which you will be able to handle them correctly and appropriately, and the degree to which you will all fulfil greatness. Don’t misinterpret what’s meant to bless you!